Wright City Returning to NormalAP , Associated Press
Oct. 4, 1986 5:10 AM ET
WRIGHT CITY, MO. WRIGHT CITY, Mo. (AP) _ This rural town began returning to normal following 11 days of terror capped by the shotgun suicide of murder suspect Michael Wayne Jackson.
''We're euphoric,'' Sheila Cone, superintendent of the school district in this eastern Missouri community of 1,200, said Friday. ''It's like being released from a trap.''
''God Bless the FBI and the Missouri State Highway Patrol. We love you,'' said a banner the First Baptist Church put up at city hall, which served as a police command post until Jackson's suicide Thursday night.
The 41-year-old man Jackson shot himself with his last shell as police closed in on the dilapidated barn he was hiding in, according to Hal Helterhoff, the FBI agent in charge of the manhunt.
Jackson had last been seen in Wright City the night of Sept. 22, when he evaded police following a gunbattle in a crime spree that stretched from Indianapolis to Illinois and Missouri. He was a suspect in the slayings of a federal parole officer and a store clerk in Indiana and a motorist in Missouri, as well as five kidnappings, two robberies and several vehicle thefts.
Hundreds of law officers searched for Jackson while anxious residents traveled in groups by day and huddled behind locked doors at night with guns close at hand. Business in town fell sharply.
Gene Brown, chief of security at a furniture factory, said he was glad to see a lot of activity around town Friday. ''It looks like the people are finally getting out again.''
''It's a great day 3/8'' said Helterhoff as he stood in a steady rain outside city hall.
A line of cars and pickup trucks drove past the barn where Jackson died.
''I was curious,'' said Jody Schneider of Josephville, Mo. ''This is a little bit of history. I wanted to see it.''
Jackson had vowed not to be taken alive, according to Indiana police.
His mother, who last week pleaded for him to surrender, said she was not surprised he killed himself.
''I had wanted so much for him to be where he wouldn't have to do that,'' said Modean Embry, of Oxford, Miss. ''I knew he couldn't make it.''
Mrs. Embry told WCBI-TV in Mississippi that her son ''couldn't cope with society.''
Jackson had a history of mental illness and was prone to violent outbursts, authorities and relatives said. He also had a history of abusing alcohol and drugs.
Some in Wright City said it may be some time before they recover the tranquility that was theirs before Jackson came to town.
''We feel relief and we feel sadness,'' said Norma Ordeiheide, who lives about three miles south of town. ''Our home is surrounded by woods, and I've always loved those woods. It's going to take a while before I can feel good about them again.''